NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are getting hot at the perfect time, and the Yankees are on the verge of heading to the World Series for the first time since 2009 after a 5-0 win over the Astros in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series
NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are getting hot at the perfect time, and the Yankees are on the verge of heading to the World Series for the first time since 2009 after a 5-0 win over the Astros in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday.
The Yanks, who took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, were buoyed by an RBI double from Judge and a solo homer from Sanchez.
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Judge and Sanchez combined to go 1-for-14 with eight strikeouts in Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS presented by Camping World -- both losses in Houston -- but in the three straight wins at Yankee Stadium, the duo combined to go 7-for-20 with three homers, three doubles and 11 RBIs. Judge went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a run scored on Wednesday, while Sanchez was 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBIs. The Yankees are now 22-6 overall when both Judge and Sanchez either club an extra-base hit or drive in a run in the same game. That includes a 10-game win streak dating to Sept. 10.
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"Coming up with those guys, it's special, seeing them do what they do," first baseman Greg Bird said. "I know maybe the first few games didn't go the way they wanted, but it was only a matter of time."
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Judge's 79 extra-base hits ranked as the seventh most in the Majors during the regular season, but none of those came on ground balls, nor did any of his extra-base hits during his brief 2016 debut. That changed in Game 5, as Judge connected on an RBI double in the third inning off Astros ace Dallas Keuchel on a hard-hit grounder down the left-field line to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead.
With Brett Gardner at first base and one out, Judge connected on an inside 1-1 cutter from Keuchel and ripped it past third baseman Alex Bregman. It had an exit velocity of 93.8 mph at a launch angle of -2 degrees, giving it a hit percentage of only 37 percent, according to Statcast™.
"I'm just trying to get productive hits with runners on base," Judge said. "That's the biggest thing this postseason. It doesn't matter how you do it as long as you're scoring runs."
Gardner raced around the bases, reaching home from first in 10.36 seconds, which was his second-fastest time from first to home this season, according to Statcast™. For comparison, Houston second baseman Jose Altuve reached home from first in 10.27 seconds in the Astros' walk-off win in Game 2.
It was the team-leading sixth RBI of the series for Judge, who homered in Games 3 and 4 after a slow start to the ALCS.
Sanchez, who snapped an 0-for-13 skid with a two-run double in Game 4, crushed both of his hits: The homer had an exit velocity of 110.7 mph (and a projected distance of 416 feet) and his single left the bat at 110.2 mph. He's the second player to have two hits of at least 110 mph in a postseason game since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015, joining Josh Donaldson.
"The key is simple," Sanchez said through a translator. "It's about not swinging at bad pitches, and when you make contact, try to make good contact."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.